Eggnog Wedding Cookies

Yes, this holiday cookie recipe is a bit late to the party – but I’m sharing it today as my silly food-bloggy way of commemorating some new-life-news: believe it or not, I’m a married lady now! After 11 years together, Grant and I finally made it official over new year’s weekend and held a tiny elopement ceremony overlooking Seattle’s waterfront in a gondola aboard the Great Wheel. Love is magic – feels good, man!

The New Year is my favorite holiday, but there’s one sad thing about January: no more eggnog! If you’re a nog-lover like me, these cookies make a good antidote for the withdrawals.

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[Sourdough] Sticky Honey Buns (No-Knead + Overnight)

I baked up these buns as a special treat for Grant’s birthday brunch, and seriously, they were epic. Pillowy, tender, studded with crunchy toasted almonds, and perfumed with the essence of our heavenly freshly-harvested honey. They have just the right amount of richness without overdoing the butter, and like any sensible breakfast bun recipe, they’re designed to hang out in the fridge for a slow overnight rise after being shaped the day before, so they’re ready to sleepily toss into the oven while you start brewing a pot of your best coffee – special weekend treat-yo-self baking at its best.

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Steel-Cut Muesli, California-Style

While I’m proud of my Floridian heritage (haha), there’s no doubt that my heart belongs on the west coast. I’m completely in LOVE with the food culture in my new California home. The most gorgeous produce is both cheap and plentiful. The bulk bins overfloweth with every healthy ingredient. It’s really locavorism at its finest.

Since we’ve already been talking about planning ahead for our meals, let’s convert all those good vibrations into a make-ahead breakfast fit for a California king!

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Dark Chocolate Almond Spread

Let’s see if I’m totally out of line with this opinion, or if some of you can relate… I like the idea of Nutella, but in practice it’s just too over-the-top unhealthy most of the time. The stuff is overwhelmingly sweet, slick with excess oil, and frankly… not real food. I’m not above a little candy here and there, but the problem is that a nutty chocolate spread doesn’t need to be such a dietary disaster.

I had been wanting to experiment with a superior spread for a while, but I don’t have a food processor and I was wary of grinding up nuts in my blender. Luckily, Jeanine from Love and Lemons is smarter than me and recently shared a spread that circumvents this issue entirely by starting the recipe with almond butter. Duh!! I’m so thankful for the internet.

As a bonus, this is the kind of recipe I can even pass along to friends who aren’t into cooking. It’s extremely simple: Almond butter. Dark chocolate. Coconut oil. I took creative liberty and added an extra tablespoon of high-quality cocoa powder to really push the flavor, and you guys… it’s so much better than Nutella.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Pudding

I can understand the argument that Valentine’s Day is arbitrary and consumerized… but seriously, if anything is worthy of celebration, it’s love. We tend to take a pretty low-maintenance approach around here; he plants me flowers, I make him an extra-nice dinner, and then we eat chocolate pudding. It’s silly, but it’s our go-to Valentine’s dessert. It’s super simple, but still feels special enough for a celebration. It’s rich, but not overly heavy after the preceding indulgent meal. And as a bonus, its prepared ahead of time and chilled until you’re ready for it, so it’s accommodating to whatever spontaneity your night offers.

This year, I felt compelled to try something new, maybe add a little sophistication to my old standby recipe. I experimented with an addition of almond flavor and espresso, and I have to say, it felt pretty fancy. It morphed chocolate pudding’s childhood charm into a deeper, more complex, grown-up indulgence. Of course I couldn’t just stop there, and had to further gild the lily by topping the bowl with lightly sweetened whipped cream, dark chocolate and crunchy almonds… I regret nothing.

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